David Boren

Mr. President,

 

Earlier this week, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made national and international headlines by denouncing a fraternity’s chant that singled out and discriminated against African-Americans.

The moment Boren found out about the chant, he was quick to call out the individuals involved and threatened disciplinary action. Not long after, he kicked the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter off campus and ordered the members living there to remove their belongings. A day later, he expelled two students charged with leadership roles in the racist chant. Boren acted quickly and boldly to draw a line in the sand against discrimination at his university.

On Feb. 7, the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at UT Austin held a party that mocked Mexican culture. While the Fiji house is not on campus, unlike the SAE house at OU, you could have set a precedent by condemning the “border patrol” party.

Instead, you sent other administration officials to address the issue and left it to the student leaders on campus to decry the event. A student-written letter of concern with over 1,000 signatures was not enough for your administration to take action. A rally with over 200 students was held and still, no action. Earlier this week, a forum regarding the party was hosted by the Center for Mexican American Studies and the overall consensus was clear: a lack of your administration’s support.

On Tuesday, you released a statement saying that you “deplore this behavior, which is contrary to the core values of The University of Texas at Austin.”

I completely agree with you, Mr. President. These types of events shouldn’t occur and like you, I deplore this behavior. The problem then comes with your statement: pure talk and no action.

The core values are unimportant if there is no one to defend them. As UT’s top administrative official, you should safeguard these core principles and take action to make sure that students employ them.

Today is March 13. It took you 33 days to even make a comment about a discriminatory event just off campus. Thirty-three days! It took Boren just hours to make a single comment about the events at his university.

The Latino community at UT did not ask for any of the Fiji students to be expelled, but we didn’t ask for silence, either. The fact that you are commenting 33 days after such an issue goes to show how much you care, understand the pain of those offended and how unimportant you think such discriminatory events are to your diversity agenda.

Yes, Mr. President, you are a lame duck president, but you could have left an even stronger legacy by taking action — and yet you didn’t. You could have held a town hall asking the UT community how they felt about this — and yet you didn’t. You could have made sure that your administration was the one reaching out to students and not the other way around. You could have done so many things — and yet you didn’t. I invite you to participate and communicate with us, to take action, to do something about the injustices we face on your campus — our campus!

Mr. President, on behalf of the underrepresented groups on campus, I must say that you have failed us. Your inability to act will only pave the way for further racially discriminatory events at UT, and as always, I am sure your response will be that your hands are tied. Shame on you, Mr. President. 

García is a government, history, international relations and Latin American studies senior from Brownsville.

The Actions of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma that came to light via a Youtube video first shared by OU Unheard were pretty despicable. I applaud President David Boren for severing “all ties and affiliations” with the fraternity and expelling two students associated with the event.

However, the inaction of UT’s Dean of Students in reprimanding our own Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for their border patrol party earlier this year perpetuates the good ol’ boy attitude of the South.

It is unfortunate that the term wetback and the offensive actions of dressing as construction workers (ironically, likely the same workers who just finished renovations on their own house) is not considered to hold the same level of vulgarity as those students over at OU’s SAE saying the “n-word” in a similar off-campus situation. 

The inaction of the UT administration and Dean of Students Sonica Reagins-Lilly in not punishing Fiji promotes the idea that you can get away from trouble if you are born into privilege and that Hispanics are still only second-class citizens.

At what point will UT instill some of the same accountability that Charlie Strong brought campus?

I thought UT stood for the core values of integrity, honesty, trust, fairness and respect toward peers in our community.

But apparently Dr. Boren is living up to those values more than the people who head the Dean of Students’ Office. Perhaps we need to change our campus before we change the world.

— Ruben Mendoza, chemical engineering and physics senior.

President of UT SAE chapter condemns OU fraternity video

After a viral video showed Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members from the University of Oklahoma chanting racial slurs, the president of UT’s SAE chapter released a statement asserting the University's chapter is not associated with the chant.

In video that surfaced Sunday, SAE members use multiple anti-black slurs and reference lynching, singing, “You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.”

In the hours following the release of the video, OU President David Boren severed ties between OU and the SAE chapter and expelled two students who, he said, played a “leadership role” in singing the chant. Tuesday, President William Powers Jr. announced the dean of students would look into whether UT’s SAE chapter has traditionally used a similar chant.

"Rumors also are circulating that a chant similar to the one at OU has been traditional in the UT chapter of SAE," Powers said in a statement. "Our dean of students said Monday she is looking into this matter as is standard practice in such cases."

Luke Cone, UT’s SAE chapter president, said he neither, nor any active member of the fraternity, had heard of the chant prior to the release of the video.

“Personally, I am deeply offended by the behavior, and I can speak on the behalf of my fraternity brothers that we are all profoundly distressed about the vindictive words that were used in it,” Cone said in the statement.

Rumors on social media regarding UT’s SAE chapter began after an anonymous Reddit comment surfaced alleging the fraternity members often sang a chant with similar lyrics. The comment, posted last month, was not authenticated. Later, another user on Twitter sent a message addressed to Boren that read, “I was an SAE at a university in Texas from 2000-2004. The exact same chant was often used then. This is not isolated.” The tweet has since been deleted.

Cone said he did not believe there was truth to the posts' claims.

“Please note that the twitter post reads ‘at a university in Texas’ rather than ‘at The University of Texas,’” Cone said. “I believe that people assumed or misread that he was speaking directly about our chapter at UT.”